By now, the hypothetical BCS championship scenario for Baylor has been well-documented. The Bears have to win all their remaining games, probably convincingly, to jump (and stay ahead) of Ohio State in the BCS standings. Plus, either Alabama or Florida State needs to lose sometime in the next few weeks.
Assuming for a moment that situation comes to fruition, it would be a tight race between the Bears and the Buckeyes. There would probably be a lot of politicking and a lot of comparing of schedules. It would be a pretty ugly and unfortunate situation for two programs that have accomplished a lot.
But could Baylor potentially have a built-in disadvantage if it comes down to a battle for that final spot? The Big 12, unlike many other BCS automatic-qualifier conferences, does not have a conference championship game. So while the ACC, Big Ten and SEC play two divisional winners in a 13th game, Baylor will play Texas in its 12th and final game of the regular season.
The good news for Baylor is that it doesn't have to worry about being out of sight, out of mind. The Bears play the 'Horns on Dec. 7th, the same day as the ACC, Big Ten and SEC title games. In other words, there's no bye week that could potentially cause Harris and Coaches Poll voters, who influence the BCS standings, to look more favorably at teams who played more recently.
Even looking ahead a year, this isn't an issue. Let's say Baylor is in a position to be selected for the first four-team College Football Playoff in 2014. The Bears play Kansas State on Dec. 6, according to the conference schedule released earlier this month. Again, there's no lapse in time that could be costly.
But the more relevant question is how much of a difference does that extra game make? This year, assuming Alabama and Florida State remain undefeated, the ACC and SEC titles are simply another game along the path to the BCS title.
But as it pertains to the possible Baylor-Ohio State conversation, it depends in large part on the quality of the matchup.
Ohio St and Baylor's remaining schedules are virtually identical. OSU's opponents (assuming MSU) are 20-10, Baylor's 19-11.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 18, 2013
Take the inaugural 2011 Pac-12 championship game, for example. That's when 10-2 Oregon faced 6-6 UCLA. That game by itself wouldn't have helped the Ducks' national championship hopes.
Now take a possible matchup between Ohio State and, say, a one-loss Michigan State in this year's Big Ten title game. If the Buckeyes win and there's one spot open in the BCS championship game, what are the chances Ohio State jumps Baylor? The other part to consider is, at best, the Bears could be playing a Texas team sitting on the edge of the BCS Top 25.
Of course, Ohio State could just as easily be playing a two-loss Minnesota team. There are still a couple of possibilities.
But if Ohio State were to draw the best-case scenario possible and beat a one-loss Michigan State, it might be enough to jump Baylor at the most critical time imaginable. The Bears may try to win each game by 50 from here on out for style points, but it could be all a moot point if Ohio State has what pollsters consider to be the better wins.
Certainly, Baylor would think it got screwed.